Thursday, 10 October 2019

Liber Research Community: "New Xinjiang" Coming Up Next Near San Uk Ling?

[Editorial note: This English article merges two articles published by Liber Research Community on 8 & 9 Oct]
Episode 1: Use of San Uk Ling Holding Centre Suspended, But "New Xinjiang" Next to SUL Set to Commence Construction?
Translated by HKCT, written by Liber Research Community [20:39 8 Oct, Chi version]


https://www.epd.gov.hk/eia/register/report/eiareport/eia_2392016/HTML/pdf/EIA/FIG%202-1.pdf

Not many people noticed this but the government secretly allocated $1.913 billion funds at the beginning of the anti-ELAB movement for site formation of about 19 hectares of land at Kong Nga Po - right next to the Chinese border and San Uk Ling Holding Centre. This will be a big step in "Xinjiang"-ising Hong Kong as the site will be used for building a gigantic police facility for counter-terrorism.

"A New Xinjiang"?

The government plans to form a site of about 19 hectares at Kong Nga Po, equivalent to one Victoria Park. It will be "a purpose-built advanced tactical training facility for counter-terrorist and other specialist operations" [PWSC(2018-19)41 Encl. 4 p. 61 note 2], isolated from the urban area, similar to the many huge counter-terrorist complexes in Xinjiang.

What will be in this facility at Kong Nga Po, or "New Xinjiang"? Not much has been publicised, but according to a plan submitted during the environmental impact assessment (in 2016), there will be firing ranges, weapons training facilities (WTF), police driving and traffic training facilities (including a multi-storey training complex), a helipad, and a proposed Police Training Facility (PTF).

When LegCo members Au Nok-hin and Ray Chan Chi-chuen asked for more details, the authorities then answered that [Chi only] the Specialist Operation Training Facility is "for counter-terrorist and other specialist operations". There will be a "simulated urban environment as a training facility". For weapons training facilities - WTF, surrounding firing ranges will be integrated into one big firing range so that the police can conduct an amplitude of firearm training, including pistols, rifles, shotguns. Also, the facility in Fanling - or the carpark of water cannon trucks, will be placed inside this "counter-terrorist facility" in Kong Nga Po. The police can train, from dawn to dusk, how to use these water cannon trucks or armoured vehicles with LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) in a far-flung forest without anyone knowing.

With no Osama bin Laden in Hong Kong, this kind of counter-terrorist training is clearly targeting public events, such as protests or rallies.

Integrate San Uk Ling Holding Centre into this big plan?

Weirdly enough, the government explained the purpose of this project as the relocation of firing ranges and other police facilities into a big one, but the latest plan did not include San Uk Ling Holding Centre and the nearby San Uk Ling Firing Range - these two have remained in the development plan.

So when Carrie Lam said San Uk Ling has ceased to operate, was that "suspension" or "withdrawal"? If it is not a permanent cessation, the holding centre may be integrated into this "New Xinjiang" project to become part of a counter-terrorist base. Will the holding centre become a new "re-education camp" like those in Xinjiang or a Guantanamo in the New Territories?

"New Territories" or "New Xinjiang"? 

In December 2018, Secretary for Security John Lee visited counter-terrorist facilities, including a counter-terrorist tactical training centre, in Xinjiang. Lee said "reference can be drawn from the experience in Xinjiang" upon his return. Soon after, his bureau submitted this counter-terrorist base infrastructure project to ask for funding in LegCo in January 2019.

Estimates 2019-20 (SB001/Q1209, Security Bureau)

Why wasn't this reported?

The project was not widely known because the government is good at playing with red tapes, putting this site formation project into the $33.5 billion appropriations of Northeast New Territories. While the press will focus on the demolition of villages or developers' hegemony, no attention will be on this counter-terrorism site in "New Xinjiang". See, everything was printed in the footnotes (note #3):


793CL – Site formation and infrastructure works for Police facilities in Kong Nga Po
When people are focusing on Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, the government has already obtained $1.913 billion to start site formation. The tender (Contract No.: ND/2018/01) said it will begin works from November this year - next month!

Now we are just talking about $1.913 billion for site formation ONLY. For a counter-terrorism facility cluster of this scale, it is very likely to cost over $10 billion. As of now, there is no estimate breakdown of the facility's budget. When the site formation is done, the Security Bureau can ask for whatever it wants to.

Oppose "New Xinjiang"

The police are treating streets with protesters as firing ranges nearly every day, aren't such training of firearm enough? There is no need to have such a training facility. If a huge place like this had been made available for drills of water cannon trucks or Unimog armoured vehicles with LRAD, its lethality will be way more than what you saw weeks ago. Thus we have to oppose this $10B+ project, which is presented as a counter-terrorism facility but, in fact, will be used to train cops to attack Hongkongers.

If there is no need to build such a counter-terrorism base and site formation has been completed, the most pragmatic solution is to move the current police training school in Wong Chuk Hang - which is 18ha - into Kong Nga Po. By vacating the site on Island South, 13,000 residential flats might be built thereon, according to JLL LaSalle.

How did Xinjiang turn into what it is now? According to SCIO, there was first an "anti-terrorism" police base, then a "preventive anti-terrorism approach" was adopted, leading to the set up of "vocational education centres", or simply "re-education camps". If we have to prevent the Hong Kong government from adopting the "preventive anti-terrorism approach", we cannot allow the government to infringe us under the pretext of counter-terrorism.

If we have to stop police violence, we must stop this "New Xinjiang" counter-terrorism project. If Carrie Lam does not take money from the coffer by invoking the emergency law, the Security Bureau is expected to apply for funds of this facility within this fiscal year. Please spread this message, do more and keep abreast of the latest situation - prevent Hong Kong from becoming another Xinjiang!

***
HKCT note: The government issued a press release to respond to rumours before the publication of this article:

Government clarifies rumours about construction of police base for counter-terrorism  
***************************************************************************
     In response to rumours on the Internet that the Government plans to construct a police base near San Uk Ling for counter-terrorism, a Government spokesman today (October 8) clarified that the Government does not have such a plan. The claims are totally unfounded. 


Ends/Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Issued at HKT 15:30
NNNN


***
Episode 2: Dark Side of "New Xinjiang" Unveiled

Chinese media have reported the project [HKCT note: SCMP, The Standard and HKFP did not report this matter as of the moment of this translation] and attracted some public attention. Although the government secretly secured the funds for site formation of Kong Nga Po police facility, or "New Xinjiang", the police force will seek funding for the main works of the facility. That will not be so easy unless Carrie Lam invokes the emergency law for funding again.

As of now, the government spokesman gave a low-key response of "totally unfounded claims" without any supporting evidence, meaning Liber Research Community has totally hit the bull's eye! OK, time for us to provide more red-handed evidence.

Govt claims info unfounded, but such info was from govt!

All information provided in the entire episode 1 is cited from official documents, including the Specialist Operation Training Facility - those were from documents submitted to LegCo. The "purpose-built advanced tactical training facility for counter-terrorist and other specialist operations" was from the government as well.

"Totally unfounded"? Does that mean the government is concocting information to deceive LegCo?

From super-prison cluster to "New Xinjiang"

It is important to read more extensively before you decide. Spend 3 minutes to know the course of history so that "the devil in the detail" is unveiled:

  • 2001 - a super-prison: In 2001, Tung Chee-hwa said the prisons in Hong Kong were overcrowded, so a study was done to see whether a large prison complex can be built in Hei Ling Chau or Kong Nga Po, so that "the CSD would be able to run the 15 000 new penal places within its existing staff establishment".
  • 2003 - proposal dropped: Regina Ip, then Secretary for Security, explained that Shenzhen did not want a super-prison to be so close by, as she learnt. DAB said it was due to security grounds, so the proposal was dropped.
  • 2010-12 - building flats: With the idea of developing the border area and spotting for sites, the government asked a consultancy to conduct a feasibility study in Kong Nga Po to see whether a project with low-to-medium density residential flats are possible.
  • 2014: relocation site to accommodate police facilities - The area would no longer be used for residential flats, but would absorb all police facilities in North District after site formation. The original police facility sites were vacated for building residential flats, according to a North District Council document. Planning Department said the neighbouring San Uk Ling Firing Range induced noise pollution, and as the firing range cannot be moved, Kong Nga Po was not suitable for residential development.
  • July 2016 - submits EIA: The entire 19 ha will be used for relocating police facilities in North District, and also additional "police training facilities will be built" but the purpose remained unknown
  • December 2018 - S for S learns counter-terrorism experience from Xinjiang: Inter-departmental Counter-terrorism Unit (ICTU) was set up in April 2018, and Secretary for Security John Lee visited Xinjiang to draw reference from them. 333 counter-terrorism exercises were conducted, including 21 large-scale drills in 2017, LegCo paper said.
  • February 2019 - counter-terrorist Specialist Operation Training Facility: project placed under $33.5 billion lump-sum appropriations of Northeast New Territories development
  • May 2019 - site formation funds secured: LegCo finance committee granted $1.913 billion funds to the site formation of Kong Nga Po and site formation works can begin in November 2019.

In short, the crucial "devil" moment occurred after 2014: first came the claim to centralise police facilities, then the mention of "training facilities" was added in 2016 with no mention of counter-terrorism in EIA. After repeated counter-terrorist drills and the Xinjiang visit, the Security Bureau asked LegCo for funds for the site formation of the project, with the indication of the facility's use for counter-terrorism only mentioned in the fine prints. Why the secrecy from the government? You got the answer.

Counter-terrorism base for sure!

When the government said "New Xinjiang" is not a counter-terrorism base, Liber Research Community carefully combed through the most recent LegCo papers and found the document:

The KNP site will also accommodate a new Specialist Operation Training Facility. This new facility together with the four other existing police training facilities to be relocated can create synergy on police training. In addition, the co-location will enhance Police’s operational efficiency. 

The reason why the facilities have to be relocated and centralised is not just about counter-terrorism, but to use this gigantic site - the size of Victoria Park - to "create synergy", so that the entire site can be used for counter-terrorism. With that, the police can use tear gas, live ammunition, water cannon trucks, fluorescent powder, LRAD (and the list goes on) concurrently in the facility. They may even put a dummy Joshua Wong in the "simulated urban environment" to practise breaking into flats and capturing a target alive. Synergy is only possible when the facilities are centralised, taking police brutality to a new level.

Questions:
  • If "New Xinjiang", or Kong Nga Po, is not going to have a counter-terrorism facility, will the Security Bureau return the $1.913 billion to the public coffer?
  • What claims are "groundless"? Those government documents submitted to LegCo?
  • The government did not mention counter-terrorism drills in the 2016 EIA. Should the government stop the permit of site formation, halt the works and do the EIA again to see the potential environmental impact>
  • Counter-terrorism facility may not be built but will it be used to build a super prison, just like Tung's suggestion?
Spread this message if you do not want Hong Kong to become another Xinjiang.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Apple Daily: Former Marine Police Arrested for Unlawful Assembly on 4 Aug



Jan Bochenski, a former marine police inspector and a retired Cathay Pacific pilot, wanted to have a walk in Sai Wan after dinner on 4 August as he lives nearby, but was subdued by the police later on. He was told that he was arrested for unlawful assembly when he was brought to the police van. He was detained for 28 hours before released.
Bochenski said around 21:00 on 4 Aug, he went to Ka On Street and found that about 30 to 40 onlookers were on the pavement, looking at the police. Some police afar were guarding the Liaison Office. Bochenski heard some disputes but did not think that to be important, so he continued to walk along Des Voeux Road West.
Suddenly, some PTU holding batons and shields approached from the other side of Ka On Street and subdued everyone, including residents in their pyjamas and South Asian delivery boy. Bochenski was asked whether he is a tourist but he said he lived nearby and just are having a walk. His reply was ignored and the police asked him to turn his phone off. He was later brought to Cheung Sha Wan Police Station. For some 40 arrestees in the same detention room, none of them is students nor wearing in black with helmets. A decoration worker, a teacher and two Indian chefs were later arranged to be detained with Bochenski.
Bochenski said the most impressive scene is there were no senior officers in the station, but all junior PCs and sergeants. Bochenski recollected that whenever there is a crisis, at least one chief inspector will be in the police station to manoeuvre, but that apparently was not the case on 4 Aug. He demanded to go to the toilet many times but was unheeded, until he said he will pee at the corner of the wall. He also demanded to call his next of kin but was also disregarded. Until rounds of complaints, he was allowed to call his wife, who is outside of Hong Kong. It was not until 5 Aug afternoon that the officers learnt Bochenski's identity as a former police officer.
After listening to the advice of the lawyer, Bochenski decided to remain silent. He said, "to be honest this makes their work easier because they know these detentions are all unnecessary; frontline officers are used for dirty work". Until around 01:00 on 6 Aug he was released but he must report presence again later this month.
Growing up in Vanuatu, Bochenski lived in Australia and the UK. His first job is to join the police force in Hong Kong and become an inspector for four years. His upbringing let him know that being a policeman in a colony must not upset the residents there.
He also mentioned that during the detention, some young officers knew that he was a policeman and had a chat with him. Bochenski was asked about his views on the current situation and he stressed the importance of trust between the police and the people - this was also the biggest challenge before 1997. Bochenski said the Royal Hong Kong Police Force spent years to build a mutual trust with the people, but now the trust has been completely eroded, and the government does not find it problematic.
Bochenski said if the government is willing to set up a commission of inquiry (COI), the mutual trust between the police and the people may be rebuilt, but the key is that both parties are willing to contribute. It has been 4 decades since Bochenski joined the force, and he still felt quite proud of being a policeman. He kept contact with his former colleagues and this year they will fly to Hong Kong to celebrate the 40th anniversary since being policemen. Although being arrested arbitrarily, his pride remains. During the interview, Bochenski repeated that the police should do their job right and cannot make arbitrary arrests.
"Whenever you are in a uniform, you should do things right and proper, otherwise you are not doing your job right, isn't it?" said Bochenski.

Chinese version (Original):

Friday, 2 August 2019

[HK's First Interpreter] Hong Kong A Step Closer to Use of Chinese in Public Matter (Chinese only)


香港政府新聞公報
一九七二年四月廿八日 星期五

公事上使用中文又邁進一步
即時傳譯主任 由英抵港履新

為推行公事上使用中文於新近所聘任的即時傳譯主任鄭仰平,現已由英國抵港,負責有關在立法及市政兩局公開會議席上提供即時傳譯服務的事宜。

在此等會議席上提供即時傳譯服務,乃為公事上使用中文研究委員會向政府提交的第一份報告內所建議。隨著即時傳譯主任的抵港履新,此項建議的實施又有進一步的進展。

鄭氏現已分別會見民政司署中文監察專員黃劍琴,布政司署及市政局人員,商討有關他的工作問題。

鄭氏在今後數月內的工作,主要將為擬定傳譯的程序,以及給予其他即時傳譯員嚴格的訓練,此等傳譯員的選錄,為根據於一九七一年香港訪問的英國專家披里的意見,他們在受訓之後,將協助鄭氏提供所需的即時傳譯服務。

鄭氏於香港出生,已婚,有四名子女,早年在上海及廣州接受教育,過去曾在香港電台、印度電台及英國廣播電台服務。

政府發言人指出,有關在立法及市政兩局為提供即時傳譯服務而裝設的工作櫃枱,其工程幾已接近完成,所需的其他設備亦已訂購,預料可於本年七月間運抵本港。

Monday, 29 July 2019

Edward Leung's Letter to Hongkongers - 26 July 2019

Edward Leung's Letter to Hongkongers - 26 July 2019
Translated by HKCT, written by Edward Leung
Original: https://www.facebook.com/leungtinkei/photos/a.172255923187252/707132706366235/ 


At 15:04 on 29 July, the Facebook page of Edward Leung, former spokesperson of Hong Kong Indigenous, uploaded a letter to Hongkongers. Full translation here:
===
Dear Hongkongers,

I hope this letter has not arrived too late.

This has been a muggy and long summer. Every night on the weekend, I would put on my headphones to listen to the news broadcast on the radio, worrying about the situation in Hong Kong. The next morning, I would watch the morning news on TV. By around noon, I would read the reports in the newspaper. Over and over, as I looked at the blood-stained scenes, my heart would be filled with sorrow and pain.

I know no matter how hard I try, I can never imagine the physical and mental suffering that you all are going through. Amidst the gunfire, I witness the bloodshed on the streets. I hear the sorrows and screams all around, and I know these have surely ignited your grief and fury.
As the number of people arrested and hospitalised continues to swell, I think of the future that you will have to face, and of the wounds that will be hard to heal. I really want to know, is there anyone who can mend the wounds inflicted on this society?

I have been separated from the society for over a year and a half now, and the information that I receive is extremely limited. I suppose writing this letter from where I am does not carry any weight, let alone writing a commentary on the matter.

However, I still hope that you all will understand: you have all exemplified incredible courage and rewritten the history of Hong Kong with your passion and love for this place. Certainly, true justice has yet to come, and perhaps you may be filled with fury in your heart; but this is only human nature. But I sincerely urge that your mind must not be dominated by hatred. In such times of crisis, you must always remain vigilant, and continue to think and reflect.

I always remind myself this: to work in politics is not just about making supporters continue their support for you. More so, it is about transforming those who were not on your side of the fence, it is about changing their mindsets, and making them identify with your point of view.

If that is the case, if we do want society view those condemned as "a mob" who have been engaged in "riots" with more tolerance and empathy; if we do want the society to understand the demands of these people who have been silenced, and accept the remonstrance of these people who have been rendered powerless; I think we must be more vigilant and alert to all our words and deeds. Will they bring us closer to our goals, or will it drive us farther away from it?

The people who should be resolving societal issues are choosing to turn a cold shoulder; instead, they seem keen to put Hong Kong's destiny on the line in a game of political gamble. What we need now is not to gamble our precious lives against them, but to purify and transcend our perseverance and hopes through our suffering. 

I sincerely pray that every Hongkonger can cross this historical juncture, safe and sound.

Edward Leung
26 July 2019

Monday, 24 June 2019

Bullets aimed at heads, fire first & then disperse - Review of Police's new strategy on 12 June

Bullets aimed at heads, fire first & then disperse - Review of Police's new strategy on 12 June
Translated by HKCT, written by Kwan Chun-hoi
Original: Kwan Chun-hoi's Medium 

"What a pleasure to see that! I thought we only fired during training. That’s real! There it is! (laughs) And I would not allow a “2.0” version to happen." In a video recorded within the police force as obtained by Apple Daily, a police officer seemed to be proud of firing, who "will not allow Umbrella Movement 2.0 to happen", talked with a sense of mission. 

Police and members of the public hold opposite views on firing. I stayed at the scene for 8 hours (10 am-6 pm) on 12 June and could give an analysis on the tactics employed by the Police in dealing with mass movement which was conspicuously different from the recent years. But the first question to be asked, both from the Hongkongers and Police, why firing came first? 

Police were facing the same situation as in the umbrella movement that 5,000 police officers were way less than tens of thousands of Hongkongers. From 3:30pm to 4pm, the force employed a baiting tactic. Front line police officers purposely did not wear gas masks, which projected an illusion of them being slack. Two inspectors in white uniform were assigned in each spot. The message of "no clearance today" was also disseminated to the lawmakers, which further soothed the tension. When protesters were lured into the LegCo Complex, tons of tear gas were fired. Flooded rapidly were special tactical squads hidden inside the Complex, as well as masked police officers with waving batons. 

To fire first and then disperse was the deployment of police and the main direction used to clear the scene on 12 June. What's more, firing (such as rubber bullets and bean bag rounds) was aimed at heads, while tear gas canisters were hurled on bodies. 

Fire first and then disperse -- The followings were my observation near the LegCo public protest area from 3pm to 4pm: 
Protest at midday on 12 June was peaceful. Police had once said that there was no plan to "clear the scene for the time being". Some secondary school students in uniform, office ladies and white-collar workers from Central arrived at the scene to show support to the protest. There were church members lined up in front of the police officers singing hymns incessantly. No violence was foreseen. 

The calm ambience at 3pm in the public protest area became tense at near 4pm, when it was learnt that clashes started on Tim Mei Avenue. Police received news at 4pm that protesters were planning to occupy the LegCo. 

Protesters charged the Police cordon line. Without any warning and under the instruction from an inspector, the police fired bean bag rounds at protesters by an officer holding a Remington shotgun. During the clashes, there were protesters hurling a few pieces of bricks, around two to three. The inspector picked up the bricks and roared at the protesters, "Are you hurling bricks? Are you hurling bricks?" From what I saw at the scene, there were not many bricks. The shout of "Are you hurling bricks?" from police was more an order to their colleagues for the sake of recording rather than a warning to the protesters. Would it be an indication of "shoot once hurled"? 

Another angle at the public protest area: Police officers rushed out to strike protesters
Police fired the first tear gas when officers without gas masks were forced to back off to the corner. Then the riot squads lurked inside the Legco Building flocked in to disperse the crowd by batons. Former Commissioner of Police TSANG Wai-hung had once explained that the use of tear gas was for dispersing the crowd, but the operation this time was obviously to fire first and disperse afterwards. This is completely different from either the operation conducted during the Umbrella Movement in 2014 that "Disperse the crowd first" or the common ways used internationally. 

Back to 1989 Govt prevents treachery 
I believed that "This is an ORDER" to take a group photo of the police officers next to the patrol car before the operation. The photo could be sent within police WhatsApp groups for showing their loyalty, recognising their faces and implementing stringently the accountability system, in case "treacherous" officers refused to shoot at the scene. With the headshot taken, any uncooperative officers can be tried publicly within Police. I witnessed the first shot at the public protest area. 

The inspector made an order to the police officer, who was holding a gun and without a mask, next to his ear. Once the first shot was fired, other police officers would be relieved of a burden and become obedient soldiers who can forget the criminal responsibility of shooting at people's heads. That was why police officers were boasting that they would not allow a second umbrella movement as they have obviously been brain-washed. I believe that even Commissioner Stephen LO Wai-chung was well aware that once there were over 30,000 to 50,000 people around the LegCo, and the Police could only resort to weapons and tear gas for clearance. 

In 1989, Xu Qinxian, the army commander of the Beijing 38th Group Army, applied for leave. Sympathizing the citizens, the troops could not clear the scene when they entered the city. DENG Xiaoping worried the morale of the troops and therefore cut off their communications. Soldiers could only wait for instructions at the camps. In 2019, rumours saying that there are opposing voices to the "Fugitive Extradition Bill" at the senior level within the Government. The Government Headquarters was closed for two days. Police officers successively quit from friend WhatsApp groups and fired feverishly in the city. The police force is now out of control. Pro-Beijing camp went against the will of a million of people by keeping silent and trying their very best to attend the meeting. ExCo member Bernard Chan even implied the deployment of the People's Liberation Army, which was however ultimately denied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Protesters were clad in white and then black, finally turned into red. Say hello to 1989. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Ray Wong: War between the Free World and Totalitarianism

War between the Free World and Totalitarianism
(Speech by Ray Wong Toi-Yeung on 4/6/2019 in German Diet)
(Content originally from Hong Kong Indigenous; small editorial changes made by HKCT to conform spelling standards)

Thanks for having me today. It’s my honour to speak to you. My name is Ray Wong Toi-yeung. Alan Li and I are the first refugees from Hong Kong. We were granted refugee status last year.

I would like to thank Germany for welcoming us. I really appreciate Germany’s reverence for human rights and human dignity. Today, I would also like to thank the Green Party, Ms Bause and her colleagues for organizing this important event.

30 years ago, when the tanks rolled into Tian'anmen Square, the world watched in horror as blood ran on the streets! More horrible is that this murderous regime is still ruling the country! China’s economic success gave the world an illusion that as it prospered, it would eventually become a democratic country with respect for human rights.

Unfortunately, though 30 years have passed, the communist China regime has become more brutal than ever. This is one of the world’s most totalitarian states!

When Hong Kong was handed to China in 1997, we had no choice but to accept this murderer, as the negotiation was made by the UK and China! Under "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong was promised to have freedom, rule of law, autonomy and democracy. But China has broken all these promises!

In 2014, I was one of the protesters in a huge pro-democracy protest, the Umbrella Revolution. In order to disperse hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens, the government ordered the use of tear gas against us and the police beat us with batons. Riot police were pointing guns in our face.
There were rumours that tanks from China were crossing the border. The vivid and bloody images of Chinese students rolled over by tanks and shot in Tiananmen square came to my mind!

I was thinking: Would this be our Hong Kong’s June 4?
Nonetheless, we were not afraid! That night I saw the strength of will of Hong Kongers who were willing to defend our city’s freedom and fight for democracy. And I saw hope.

It was this which motivated me to devote myself to Hong Kong’s politics.
I founded the Hong Kong Indigenous Party in January 2015 with a group of young people who shared the same hope as me. Our vision was to fight for freedom, build democracy and save Hong Kong’s language, culture and identity.

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”
- Albert Camus

More than a year of hard work later, we gained enough support in a by-election that we were very confident of a seat in the legislative council general election in 2016!
Unfortunately, the Beijing regime saw us as a potential threat which would undermine their great plan to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city.
My colleague Edward Leung was barred from running in the election due to his political views. So we transferred our support to another party, which successfully secured two seats. But these two lawmakers were later disqualified also. We lost our political rights!

Not content with this, Beijing and the Hong Kong government came after us with harsh prosecutions linked to another protest, the so-called Fishball revolution. Edward, Alan and I and 40 others were charged with rioting under the Public Order Ordinance, a law which was strongly criticized by the United Nations Human rights Council. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison!

In June 2018, Edward was sentenced to jail for six years. About 30 other protesters, mostly students, have been put into prison for terms of 3 to 7 years.
I want to call for the immediate release of Edward Leung and all Hong Kong’s political prisoners!
There is a long list of human rights abuses in Hong Kong. Booksellers were kidnapped to China, democratically elected lawmakers were disqualified, protesters were sentenced to harsh prison terms! A Financial Times journalist was expelled from Hong Kong and human rights activists have been denied entry. Academic and press freedom is threatened.

Four leaders of the Umbrella revolution, including Professor Benny Tai and Professor Chan Kin-man are now in prison.

Is this the same Hong Kong as before 1997?

The free world has to wake up to the challenge from authoritarianism and defend Hong Kong’s freedom and dignity against communist China.

Recently, Beijing has opened a new front by ordering the Hong Kong government to pass an amendment to the Extradition law. This Law is effectively a legalization of kidnapping!

The law will give power to the Hong Kong government to arrest and extradite a Hong Kong citizen or foreign visitor to face trial in China. How dare the Hong Kong government agree to extradite their own citizens and visitors to a legal system where forced confessions are normal, and torture is common?

Human rights and the rule of law benefit Hong Kong as a trading hub. It is not only an international financial centre but also a platform for international NGOs to advocate freedom, human rights and democracy in Asia. Hong Kong is strategically important for NGOs in the whole region.

This extradition bill is breaking the firewall between Hong Kong and China. For me personally, I will never be able to go back to Hong Kong as the Hong Kong government could extradite me to China on the grounds of threatening national security.

Hong Kong is facing a critical time in its 178 years of History. On the 30th anniversary of the June 4 massacre, we hope everyone in the world who treasures freedom, democracy and human dignity will join us in solidarity.
Hong Kong needs your help!

This is not only a war fighting the Communist regime by Hong Kong people, this is a war between democracy and tyranny; as well as a war between the free world and totalitarianism.

【自由世界對抗極權的戰爭】
今天可以來到這裡為大家演說,我感到很榮幸。我是從香港來的黃台仰,這是李東昇,2018年我們獲得德國批出的「政治難民庇護」,是第一宗香港市民獲得外國庇護的案例。

30 年前,當坦克駛進天安門廣場的時候,全世界都惶恐地看著染血的北京街頭;但更可怕的是,這個殺人政權至今仍然統治著這國家。中國在經濟上的成就給了世界一種繁榮的錯覺,讓人以為這個地方有一天將成為一個尊重人權的民主國家。不幸地,30 年過去了,這裡只有變得比以前更殘暴,更成為世界上其中一個最專制的國家。

當香港於 1997 年交還予中國時,我們(香港人)並沒有選擇,只能接受這個殺人兇手,那時所有談判都是英國和中國之間的,香港人並不能參與。「一國兩制」的制度承諾賦予香港自由、法治、自主及民主,但這些承諾全都被中國打破了。

2014 年,香港爆發了一場爭取民主的雨傘革命,我是示威者之一。為驅散數以十萬計的市民,政府下令使用催淚彈對付我們、警察用警棍毆打我們、防暴警察將槍口指向我們的臉;傳聞中國大陸的坦克會衝過邊界,我的腦海重現天安門廣場上、學生被射殺和被坦克輾過的血腥畫面,我想,這會是「香港六四」嗎?

但儘管如此,我們並不害怕,那一晚我看到香港人的意志和力量,他們願意守衞我城的自由,為民主而戰。

我看到希望。

這份希望驅使我投入香港政治,我和一群和我抱持同樣希望的年輕人,於 2015 年 1 月創立了本土民主前線,我們的願景是爭取自由、建立民主,以及保衛香港獨有的文化,語言和身份。

「自由的唯一意義,就是一個變得更好的機會」。- 阿爾貝•卡繆

經過一年多的努力,我們在補選中獲得足夠支持,我們都很有信心能在2016年立法會換屆選舉中贏得一席。不幸地,北京視我們為潛在威脅,會破壞他們意欲把香港變成另一個大陸城市的計劃。

我的同僚梁天琦更因其政治主張而被禁止參選。因此,我們把我們的支持轉移到另一政黨,該黨贏得兩席,但兩位立法會議員最後亦被褫奪議席。我們失去了我們的政治權利。

但北京和香港政府並不滿足於此。在另一場被稱為「魚蛋革命」的大型示威後,他們嚴厲檢控我們。梁天琦、李東昇和我,及另外 40 人,我們被控《公安條例》中的暴動罪,這條最高刑罰是監禁 10 年的條例曾遭到聯合國人權委員會的強烈批評。

2018 年 6 月,梁天琦被判入獄 6 年,其他示威人士,包括大部份學生,全部被判 3 至 7 年監禁。
我要求即時釋放梁天琦,以及所有香港政治犯。香港侵犯人權的事例很多,書店東主被綁架返中國;民選的立法會議員被取消資格;示威人士被判處嚴厲刑期;一名《金融時報》記者被驅逐出香港,以及社運人士被拒入境、學術及出版自由均受到威脅。

四名雨傘革命領袖,包括戴耀廷教授,以及陳健民教授現時都在獄中。
香港還和 1997 年前一樣嗎?
自由世界必須在起來對抗獨裁主義,保衛香港的自由和尊嚴,對抗共產黨。

最近,北京開拓了新的戰線,命令香港政府通過《逃犯條例》的修訂。這項條訂根本是將綁架合法化!

修例會賦予香港政府權力,拘捕或引渡香港市民或海外遊客,讓他們面對中國大陸的審訊。香港政府怎麼可以同意逮捕、引渡他們自己的公民或旅客,到一個強迫認罪很普遍,酷刑亦很常見的司法制度?

人權法治令香港成為貿易中心。香港不只是個國際金融中心,也是國際非政府組織於亞洲推動民主、自由及人權的重要平台。對於這些國際非政府組織,香港於亞洲很有戰略地位。

《逃犯條例》修訂將打破中港之間的防火牆,意味著一國兩制壽終正寢,以及香港之死。
在我個人而言,我將永遠不能回到香港,因為香港政府可以以「危害國家安全」為由,將我引渡到中國。

香港正處於開埠178年來最嚴峻的時候。於六四大屠殺 30 週年這時,我希望世上每一個珍惜自由、民主以及人類尊嚴的人們,與我們團結一致。
香港需要你的援手!
這不僅是香港人對抗共產黨政權的戰爭, 更是一場民主對抗暴政、自由世界對抗極權的戰爭。

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

[4 June 2019] Owan Li: Giving Up Is Our Heaviest Price to Pay

Giving Up Is Our Heaviest Price to Pay
By Owan Li, Council Member (April 2018-April 2020) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University [Social Policy and Administration, Year 3]
in front of Hong Kong Cultural Centre on 4 June 2019

各位在場朋友大家好。

「以銅為鏡,可以正衣冠;以古為鏡,可以知興替;以人為鏡,可以明得失。」今日我們一同來到尖沙咀一同紀念三十年前在不遠的他方,我們可以清晰地看到極權政府的暴行。所以今日的六四悼念集會,除了紀錄當日猝然而逝的往生者以外,亦令我們一眾港人明白到歷史教會我們的事情。學習歷史,除了可以增廣見聞,也可以教曉我們不要重蹈覆轍,今日在網路上回顧這些年來的紀錄片和照片,可見極權政府對付平民百姓的手段殘暴不仁、令人扼腕。因此,回望這段歷史,我們必需要時刻警惕,極權政府正在我們的鄰近之處蠢蠢欲動、張牙舞爪。

「香港人這個身份,在這幾年特別艱難,但我相信我們每一位,都有為這個地方感到自豪,因為我們真的很喜歡這個地方,我作為香港人的一份子,對於香港日漸沉淪,慢慢不再是我們熟悉的地方,除了嘆息,亦只有難過。我選擇了在不同的身份上,都要捍衛香港人這個身份,作為今日這一代的學生領袖,彷如與三十年前蒙難的往生者身影重疊。慶幸今天我仍活在香港,雖然不致於生命受到威脅,但一九九七年主權移交以來,香港人的正常生活早已面目全非。雖然在理大民主牆事年當中,我需要履行120小時社會服務令,但事實上在香港不同的角落,早已有不同的香港人身陷囹圇成為年輕世代的政治犯,相比之下120小時的社會服務令簡直微不足道,更遑論當日死傷無數的犧牲者,魂魄早就刻在我們在場每一個人的腦海之中。歷史的教晦,就是要我們面對極權的統治,除了要保留實力、小心應對之外,亦要時刻防範不要鬆懈。

歷史,是勝利者編寫時代輝煌見證的書目。今年《環球時報》指出六四「事件」是已褪色的歷史事件,放下它有助國家走出陰影避免分歧,幫助所有中國人面對未來、對動亂可以免疫。此等評論只為抹黑歷史、愚弄群眾。

但我希望在場各位,不要忘記歷史給過我們沉痛與淚水帶來血的教訓,因為只有銘記歷史,我們才能發創未來。今日的香港,有人說要忘記過去,我對此不敢苟同,因為學習歷史的意義,除了要令我們知道以前的事件之外,亦可以從過去的大小事上找到了世界行走的軌跡,在座每一位都明白到只有認識到極權政府的過去、面對殺人政權的暴行,更有效可以為我們疏理好未來鬥智鬥力的籌碼,必需要步步為營,他日終究都會是我們在場各位自主未來。

有人認為,明知不可為而為之,是一種極致的無知,但是歷史沒有如果、只有教訓,若然我們能夠保留實力,他日定能勇者無懼。只要我們永不放棄,勝利定當站在我們一方。

今日六月四日,三十年過去了,中共政權在本質從來沒有絲毫的改變。今日的香港更是變本加厲,如今逃犯條例修訂案猶如每個港人頸邊的利刃,吾等眾人活在人心惶惶的恐懼當中。

放棄,才是我們的最大代價。

雖然未來的日子,早就可以預見我們的生活將會遇上更大的艱難。但希望在這裡希望鼓勵各位,只要有我們、這裡才是我們的香港。

各位,無論如何都要堅持。

因為我們都是香港人。

[Li's speech in English; edited for grammatical reasons; explanations in italic]

Good evening everybody.

Learning from history is about learning the lesson of our life in our modern society. Today, we are coming to Tsim Sha Tsui, commemorating 30 years ago - it's not quite far away - in Beijing, Tian'anmen Square. We can clearly find that the government of the Communist Party in China already showed the dictatorship to the citizens. It's actually - today's event - not only have to recall the dead victims in China, we also learn the history, learn the lesson of today's Hong Kong. We should have the self-determination of our destiny, and also we should learn the lesson from history.

Today, in Hong Kong, the government already showed us the dominance, the hegemony - not only because of the sovereignty problem but also they do not treasure Hong Kong people. Today, in Hong Kong, the identity of Hong Kong people is extremely difficult. To uphold the identity of Hong Kong people, we should be proud of it. Because this identity is unique. No one can replace [us].

However, we can see that every day in Hong Kong, we have sad news. Teenagers, or our next generation, have no hope - they even committed suicide. They think that they cannot find their future. However, when we learn from history, we can find that the Communist Party in China already showed us - when we escape, they will do more. We are now living in danger. As a student leader in Hong Kong, and I am still the student council member of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, although the punishment [received by Li regarding his protest against the Polytechnic's decision to forbid the students using the democracy wall at campus] is 120 hours of community service order, compared to that, 30 years ago, they sacrificed their lives, their destiny, their future. Compared to that, it [Li's punishment] seems to be nothing.

History is written by winners instead of losers. So, we have to uphold the identity of Hong Kong people. We have to be our own winner. We never forget, we never forgive.

Last but not least, in the future, it will be predicted that our lives, society, the community will encounter more difficulties. I would like to express that we never give up, because, in the world, we are Hong Kong people. Only we are Hong Kong people to uphold Hong Kong's rights. Thank you.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

[4 June 2019] Joey Siu: Unite regardless of generation and protest on 9 June

Unite regardless of generation and protest on 9 June
By Joey Siu, Acting External Vice President of Provisional Executive Committee of the City University of Hong Kong Students' Union
in front of Hong Kong Cultural Centre on 4 June 2019

大家好,我係香港城市大學學生會臨時行政委員會署理外務副會長邵嵐。

三十年前嘅北京,一眾中國學生主導發起咗要求中共政府正視社會問題,建設民主中國嘅八九民運。然而,數以萬計嘅學生對民主自由嘅渴求不但得唔到政府嘅重視,更加換嚟咗6月4日凌晨嘅屠城慘劇。冰冷嘅坦克車徹底粉碎咗莘莘學子對民主自由,對公義嘅希望。

三十年後嘅香港,中共政權一次又一次肆意妄為咁想摧毀香港嘅核心價值。由否定梁天琦參選資格到褫奪四位民選議員議席,人大釋法、到今日,中共試圖藉修訂逃犯條例徹底摧毀香港嘅法治,將我地嘅家園變成中共政權下嘅一個城市。

關於六四,近年嚟經常聽到老一輩批評年輕人唔出席支聯會舉辦嘅六四燭光晚會。作為一個香港人,我都選擇唔出席支聯會嘅燭光晚會,建設民主中國並非一眾生於斯,長於斯嘅香港人要承擔嘅責任。即使拋開身份認同而言,痴心妄想咁要求一個如此血腥嘅政權去平反三十年前嘅過失,還人民民主自由更加係天方夜譚。

但係,我仍然選擇悼念六四。作為一個學生,我希望藉悼念六四中犧牲嘅學生,時刻警醒自己,香港而家面對緊嘅,係一個幾咁橫蠻嘅政權。作為一個學生領袖,我希望藉悼念六四話比更多人聽,特別係已經唔可以再從課本上完整咁了解六四事件,更年輕嘅一代知,究竟中共有幾殘暴不仁。

五十年大限過去未夠一半,但中共已經迫不及待赤化香港,香港人一直引以為傲嘅法治精神,自由民主可謂經已蕩然無存;而家,就連最基本嘅集會自由,言論自由都岌岌可危。

港共強推送中惡法,我唔知道我哋下年仲可唔可以喺同一地方悼念六四。喺德國流亡嘅黃台仰為紐約時報撰文時話「送中惡法通過,香港將會死亡」。香港危急存亡之際,我哋更加要銘記歷史比我哋嘅教訓,無論老一輩定係年輕一代都應該放低成見,團結反抗惡法。

香港人,6月9號,我哋維園見。

Hello everyone, I am Joey Siu, the Acting External Vice President of Provisional Executive Committee of the City University of Hong Kong Students' Union.

So, first I have to apologize for not having an English version of my speech. But what I want to say is, we all should remember the June 4th movement. We all should remember how cruel can the Chinese government be. No one can save us - only we Hongkongers can save ourselves. As a Hongkonger, as a student, as a student leader, I am willing to voice out for my country, for my homeland. So, 9 June, let's meet at Victoria Park, thank you.
------
(The following is the translation of her Cantonese speech.)
Hello everyone, I am Joey Siu, the Acting External Vice President of Provisional Executive Committee of the City University of Hong Kong Students' Union.

Three decades ago, in Beijing, lots of Chinese students had led the movement in 1989, demanding the CCP government to face squarely to the problems in society and to build a democratic China. Yet, the desire for democracy and freedom by tens of thousands of students was neglected by the government and ended up in a tragedic slaughter in the early hours on 4 June 1989. Cold tanks completely crushed students' hope for democracy, freedom and justice.

Three decades later, in Hong Kong, the CCP regime has time and again showed its fervent desire to destroy the core values of Hong Kong. From disqualifying Edward Leung's candidacy to disqualifying the seats of four elected lawmakers, from NPCSC's Basic Law interpretation to what is happening now - utterly tarnishing the rule of law in Hong Kong by trying to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (FOO). They want our homeland to become a city under the CCP regime.

In recent years, we can often hear criticisms from people of the older generation about youngsters not attending the candlelight vigil in Victoria Park. As a Hongkonger, I choose not to attend the one in Victoria Park by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China. To build a democratic China is not a responsibility on the shoulders of Hongkongers, who are born and bred here. Putting aside identity issue - fantasizing a brutal regime to vindicate the mistake it made three decades ago and allow democracy and freedom is simply ridiculous.

Still, I choose to commemorate June 4th. As a student, I hope to alert myself the barbarism of the regime Hong Kong is now facing by remembering those sacrificed students in Beijing. As a student leader, I hope to tell more people - especially the younger generation who can no longer learn about the incident completely from textbooks - how brutal the CCP is.

Half of the deadline of "unchanged 50 years" has passed, yet the CCP has an urge to turn Hong Kong red. The rule of law, which Hongkongers are proud of, as well as freedom and democracy, can be described as "it's over". And now, the freedom of assembly - the most fundamental right - is in jeopardy.

The CCP wants to steamroller the draconian FOO amendment. I do not know whether we can commemorate June 4th at the same place next year. Ray Wong, now in exile in Germany, wrote on New York Times that if the FOO amendment is passed, Hong Kong will be dead. At this critical moment of Hong Kong, we should remember the lessons from history. Regardless of older or younger generation, we should put our differences aside and unite to oppose this draconian law.

Hongkongers, let's meet at Victoria Park on 9 June.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

PRC Scholar's New Idea: "GD-HK-Macau Greater Bay Special Legal Cooperation Area"

PRC Scholar's New Idea: "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Special Legal Cooperation Area"
Translated by Karen L., edited by Ben Kong, written by Raymond Wan 
Original: https://news.mingpao.com/pns/%E8%A7%80%E9%BB%9E/article/20190218/s00012/1550427314563/%E5%B0%B9%E7%91%9E%E9%BA%9F-%E5%85%A7%E5%9C%B0%E7%9A%84%E5%A4%A7%E7%81%A3%E5%8D%80%E6%96%B0%E5%80%A1%E8%AD%B0-%E8%A8%AD%E3%80%8C%E7%B2%B5%E6%B8%AF%E6%BE%B3%E5%A4%A7%E7%81%A3%E6%B3%95%E6%B2%BB%E7%89%B9%E5%88%A5%E5%90%88%E4%BD%9C%E5%8D%80%E3%80%8D 

The “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Special Legal Cooperation Area” may be unheard of for many Hongkongers, or scholars even. Yet it represents “systematic innovation” in the architecture of GBA development. Li Lin (李林), Director of the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, published an article named “Legal implications of the Greater Bay Area” in January at China Review in China, saying that an iconoclastic legal platform where the strategic partnership upholds the ideal of mind liberation is required to solve the fundamental problems arising from systematic differences within the GBA.

The preliminary idea of GBA is that “the consisted cities transfer part of the power of legislation, enforcement and judiciary to help stipulate a set of conjoint ordinances and policies under ‘One Country, One System’ so that the future development of different aspects there, economy, finance, talents, technology, intellectual property and environmental protection, for instance, can go on without interruption or conflicts”.

Li suggested that equal status should be given to Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau as a democratic move, and that the central government’s guidance will assist the leaders to reach consensus. Additionally, a collective effort is demanded of the cities to form a legislative committee to cope with the issues of law. Li added that the ordinances and policies should be based on several principles to smoothen the process: territorial jurisdiction comes before nationality jurisdiction; what is beneficial to the execution of civil law is given priority; issues associated with the sovereignty, national defense and diplomacy are not to be interfered with; Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau are obligated to provide mutual aid to one another in terms of law enforcement.

To-do List for the Next Five Years

Li also regarded the current situation as too urgent for long term solutions, pinpointing that overcoming every possible systematic obstacles there will take ages, while the development of GBA is so imminent that it cannot wait for decades. Therefore he proposed to act practically, to adapt with a set of temporary rules within the next five years, and continue from there.

First and foremost, it is creating an entry point of which the circumstance of GBA can be realized. The three-pronged solution includes the considerations of GBA legislation, executive agreement and national policies. To my understanding, the precedent has been set through the juxtaposed border control over the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High Speed Rail Hong Kong Section. Hong Kong’s legal sector castigated the operation which mainland officers would be given authority to enforce mainland law in Hong Kong, as it apparently points to the violation of the Basic Law. In that case, Beijing bypassed the legal complications in the midst of controversy, letting the government of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong government arrange customs and immigration details for themselves, and subsequently approving the scheme as being in accordance with the Basic Law. There, very conveniently, through legislation, can certain practices be implemented in Hong Kong.

Secondly, Li indicated that study on how to legislate needs to be taken. Specifically, the central government legislation, the local legislation and the cooperative legislation, should be put forward.

For the central government’s part, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress shall legalize all major policies and problems therein and authorize particular provisions based on the Basic Law to meet any urgent need for the institution of GBA, while in the power of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, dedicated executive stipulations for GBA items (e.g. attracting talents, funds allocation, mobility, employment and industrial development) can be set in motion.

As in the local legislation, it is both suitable for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau to adopt a cooperative legislative procedure or a separate one. “In the present phase,” Li added, “if cooperative legislation is too far from being inclusive; separate legislative procedures can be used instead, provided that the timing and the content are in sync, and that the procedures are simplified as much as possible.”

Thirdly, dispute resolution (on economy, civil matters, intellectual property and so forth) is reckoned as one of the measures to be taken into account. Under the long-running constitutions, all three districts have sufficient experiences on criminal procedure and administrative litigation. A few adjustments made according to the GBA condition can be expected to be rather straightforward, and the rest can be kept for the time being. To be exact, it should adhere to “three propositions”—utilize the civil, administrative and joint mediation to the full; reinforce the notarization of the legal documents and the mechanism for civil and commercial arbitration; leaving court litigation as the last resort.

“One Country, Two Systems” Fading and Failing

Li’s article is the continuation of “The Legislation Issues of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area”, co-written by Zhang Liang, the Associate Dean of School of Law, Sun Yat-sen University and Li Dong-ming, a PhD student at the said university. The article advised in short what a cooperative legislation would help in easing the potential difficulties, and that it denied the existence of autonomy in GBA as it is a state project initiated by Beijing.

These mainland scholars’ statements provide legitimate ground for the worries of a deteriorated “One Country, Two Systems”. For one thing, the “law” mentioned here and there to make way for GBA appears more of a broad definition of policy, planning, agreement and regulation combined. It naturally makes people wonder if there’s an appeal mechanism to the execution of the “law”. For another, the powers to be transferred by the special administrative regions for certain policies is yet to be defined. It raised doubts over the promised high degree of autonomy come what may. And how would the foreign funds, foreign governments and foreigners working in Hong Kong evaluate the city’s status as an international city/ international financial centre after that?

Since the Opening of China, southern China and Hong Kong have luxuriated in the complementary advantages brought by market mechanism; however, the latest plan of development concentrates so much on strengthening the roles of the central government and the regional governments. The Public’s input is ruled out in most of the process (particularly the parts related to Hong Kong’s rule of law and the citizens’ quality of life). We shall demand public consultation to be restored as it has been the pillar in our policy formulation so that the credibility of any policy is not undermined.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Straight Talk with Kurt Tong (26.2.2019) - Full Transcript

Straight Talk with Kurt Tong (26.2.2019) - Full Transcript
http://news.tvb.com/programmes/straighttalk/5c75430de6038315322124ee

MC: Hello I’m Michael Chugani and this is Straight Talk. With me today is the US Consul General, Mr Kurt Tong. Thank you very much. Now, Mr Consul General, you were here about a year ago. 

KT: About a year ago, yes. Thanks, Michael.

MC: In that year, a lot has happened. Since you last came, we’ve had the trade war, we’ve got legislative councillors who were disqualified, we’ve got a national anthem law and we have a congressional report that said we should reassess the Hong Kong Policy Act. I’m going to start off with the trade war because just yesterday President Donald Trump said okay, negotiations have gone well and he’s going to delay the tariffs for a while. Now, Mr Consul General, a lot of people say, critics say that the trade war was not necessary, and it was America’s way to try and suppress the rise of China. Would you say that was true?

KT: Well, thanks Michael and thank you for having me again this year. It’s been...I enjoyed...it’s a really good opportunity to have some dialogue. The situation with the ongoing trade negotiations, I would characterize it as “we’ve entered a second overtime”. We’ve had a brief first overtime for about two days and then the president, as you said, has indicated that he’s going to postpone raising US tariffs for a period of time while we have future negotiations. I think the US continues to have high expectations for these talks. There's a lot of very important structural issues that we’re now substantively engaged on. We have a clear agenda and there is a reason to think that we can actually have a significant breakthrough in improving the nature of the US-China economic relationships, which the US as you know had a lot of points of dissatisfaction with. So, I’m hopeful that these negotiations would go well and that is pretty much the intentions of the talks...the tariffs you know, are an action-forcing event. They focus the mind and they help China understand to the degree of which the US really consider these problems that are buildup in the nature of the US-China economic relationship to be very serious.

MC: Was it necessary? Because people say that it’s hurt both the US and it’s hurt China, it definitely has hurt Hong Kong, and that it could’ve been settled without tariffs, and that by imposing these tariffs, President Trump is trying to, I asked, again to suppress the rise of China.

KT: That’s clearly not the case. We’re not trying to suppress the rise of China, we’re trying to interest China and create incentive for China to focus on significant problems that are...

MC: Have they been playing unfair?

KT: Who?

MC: China. In trade.

KT: Yes. Absolutely. It’s been an unfair...
MC: In areas like technology transfer, forced technology transfer.

KT: Unfair and non-reciprocal on trading relationship in the way it’s been structured, and particularly, as with respect to technology and investment. So, we focus the mind through tariffs and have had negotiations. This is not uncommon in global commerce or trade negotiations. 

MC: Sure, now the thing is that I’m going to link that with the Huawei issue, with the arrest of a senior Huawei official. 

KT: Well, that’s the wrong thing to do, because they’re not linked.

MC: OK, they are not linked. But you know, it’s been said that the two are separate. I understand that but people, critics look at it as one whole thing. You’ve got the trade war, you’ve got the arrest of the Huawei official and then you’ve got the US trying to stop Huawei into dominating 5G. All these things combined…

KT: Well, critic... 

MC: ...will give people an impression that they’re trying to suppress the rise of China.

KT: Right, and those people, those critics are incorrect. There's no linkage between the Huawei technology issue, the specific case against Mrs Meng [sic] or the ongoing bilateral trade negotiations. These are separate things and that’s the way the real world works. Now, there’s a talking point that is being issued by the Chinese side that the United States is interested in containing or suppressing China.

MC: Right.

KT: That is a talking point also intended to create leverage and motivate people to…

MC: You’re not trying to do that? You’re not trying to do that? The US is not trying to do that?

KT: That’s right. We’re trying to resolve specific problems in specific ways using specific levers. When someone breaks the law, you have a law enforcement action. When there’s a technological risk, that will be considered debated and as you seen there's been a lot of countries considering the right way to deal with the risk mitigation, with respect to technologies coming out, particularly 5G. And in trade area, trade investment area, you have a negotiation. If you need to create leverage in order to have that negotiation, you create leverage and have a negotiation. This is how the real world works.

MC: Okay, I’m going to bring the issue back to Hong Kong now because we’re in Hong Kong and I think one of the things that concerns a lot of Hong Kong people, especially businesses in Hong Kong. Is that congressional report that came out that said that because they see Hong Kong’s autonomy is diminishing, perhaps it’s time to reassess to giving Hong Kong a special customs status, right? Now, you have said, Mr Consul General, that they’re not going to take...the US is not going to take back the Hong Kong Relations Act for the time being, is that right?

KT: So, the most important point to make is...and you’ve said all the way from trade negotiations to the Hong Kong Policy Act, there’s no relationship between those issues as well. 

MC: Yes, of course. It’s a separate issue.

KT: It’s entirely separate issues and the Hong Kong Policy Act is a piece of US legislation that allows the United States to treat Hong Kong differently than it treats the rest of China for purpose of the US law. That will continue as long as Hong Kong continues to be substantively autonomous in those various areas of US laws. So, I think...again it’s a much more legalistic, methodical, scientific conversation that is often portrayed. So...I think that we will issue another report again soon, coming out of the State Department, the consulate assisted in the creation of that. It will report the reality of Hong Kong…

MC: What is the reality, Mr Consul General?

KT: ...situation and autonomy. The reality is that Hong Kong continues in many ways, in many areas to enjoy a high degree of autonomy but there are issues on areas for concern, in particular this last year 2018 was not a particular good year for Hong Kong’s autonomy. There were signs for increasing pressure put on Hong Kong’s political space and some unfortunate events have happened in 2018 which created a sense that Hong Kong may be losing some of that grip on autonomy. So, I think the report is likely to reflect that fact but also will be fair in assessing the overall balance of the pros and cons with respect to autonomy. 

MC: I’m going to try and pin you down on that. Now, the last time you were here, you said that the emphasis seems to be less on autonomy and more on “One Country”. That’s what you said last time. Now, you’re saying a new report is coming out…

KT: It’s required by Congress…

MC: Sure, right. And things have happened, unfortunate things. I think what you meant was that you’ve had candidates being disqualified to run in elections, you’ve had a foreign journalist expelled for hosting a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club by a pro-independence party. Then you’ve got people in Hong Kong saying free speech has limits, you cannot even talk about independence. You, when you were last here, you said, free speech is free speech, right? And as long as it’s peaceful, it should be allowed, right? Now, you are now saying that the new report, as required by law, will come out soon, and it will reflect these things. How strongly will it reflect these things that the autonomy is now under threat?

KT: Well, the report is yet to be issued. You know, I don’t want to lessen your enthusiasm for actually reading it when it comes out. But the point that matters is that I think there’s been a trend in the last few years and in 2018 in particular of emphasis on “One Country” in ways that impinged on the realization on the full benefits of “Two Systems”, and the autonomy, the high degree of autonomy that Hong Kong is supposed to enjoy under the Basic Law.
So the thing that concerns me is that concern from the mainland side about politics in Hong Kong. Hong Kong politics is different than mainland politics and that’s… I understand that it’s uncomfortable for the mainland. But that kind of pressure that’s being applied can impact the political sphere in Hong Kong in a narrowing political space, that a deeper concern for US interests is that it could actually, over time, start to influence the economic spheres as well. And really this year, we’re experiencing… we’ve enjoyed the 175th anniversary of our consulate, we’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what our consulate is about, what the US presence is about in Hong Kong? When you really dig into it, a lot of it is about economic ties, trade, investments and business. And if that political atmosphere changes to a sufficient extent, it ends up hurting the business environment that would be very problematic I think for everyone involved, for the United States, for China, for Hong Kong people certainly and even for the region.

MC: Okay. Quick break. See you soon.

/////

MC: Thanks for staying with us. This is Straight Talk. With me is Mr Kurt Tong, he is the Consul General of the US. Now, Mr Tong, before the break, we talked about the US Policy Act, I think that’s one thing that concerns a lot of people in Hong Kong. And you did say that what concerns the US is that, as people see autonomy eroding, and more focus being put on “One Country”, rather than “Two Systems”, it could then spill to affecting business ties, the business atmosphere, and that concerns the US because you have got a lot of companies in Hong Kong that do business here, right?

KT: Yes. A huge presence.

MC: Exactly. Now, you know last year when you are here, you did say and I will say it again that you felt that emphasis is now more on “One Country” than “Two Systems”, and autonomy is eroding. A new report is coming out again, and I’m sure, even though you won’t tell me what it is, it is still being done, I don’t think that it will say “everything is fine”. I am sure it will say that “things are not fine”, right? Now, how much worse does it need to get before the US congress says “okay, now we must take a serious look at whether we should give Hong Kong special status”.

KT: So, there is no autonomy meter, right? And it’s not…

MC: That I do know, but Mr Consul General, you have said that…

KT: Let me…

MC: Okay.

KT: It’s not… so my point being that it is not a black or white question. And the report and what not will be very careful to be fact-based, to be careful and assessments, and make sure that we get our stories straight. The Hong Kong Policy Act provides a legal framework for a variety of activities and cooperation, application of US law, to the relationship between the United States and Hong Kong. The likely way that things will happen going forward is that there will be, some scrutiny of the various aspects of implementation of that law. And if there is autonomy in those areas of application, then it will continue just fine. And I expect that mostly the case in most areas going forward. In a specific area, bilateral activity, like say law enforcement cooperation, things are going great, Hong Kong is showing a high degree of autonomy, Hong Kong is acting like a “Two Systems” special place, then the US will continue to treat it as such.

MC: But what areas do you feel that autonomy is eroding? 

KT: Well, in the biggest implication, I think it’s in the political sphere again, that political activities have been constrained, you talked about some of the negative events with respect to the freedom of expression, over the past year…

MC: Will those things be…

KT: And that’s the concern. So that is the general background, and then when you consider the Hong Kong Policy Act and US-Hong Kong cooperation, in some ways it's more specific to various activities.

MC: Do you expect, I know this is like you don't know yet, but do you expect that when the report comes out, it will be more critical than the one before?

KT: Well, I think, given what I have told you about our assessment of the previous year, I think that could be the case, yes.

MC: It would be more critical than the one… because the one before drew a very angry response from Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive, right? So, you said the new one coming out will be even worse? 

KT: It’s an uncomfortable thing for one government to make a report about the activities of another government.

MC: Sure.

KT: Or either the Hong Kong government or the mainland government. That’s an uncomfortable thing, people sometimes react to that. I get it, we are required by law because of these special circumstances of “One Country, Two Systems”. And being allowed under US law to apply these special positive aspects of a unique relationship.

MC: Well, I’ll ask you…

KT: We are required to report on it, and we will report on it, and people might not like what we say, but we…

MC: But it’s the US law, so you report on it, right? Now, I am going to ask you one more question, and then I will move on. Now, you think the report will be worse than the one, well, more critical than the one last year, right? Okay, fine. Now, can I assume that it will be more critical because in that year, you have had candidates being disqualified, you have had a journalist being expelled, you have had a political party being banned, and then the insistence that you cannot even talk peacefully about independence, if you do you will no longer be able to run for elected office again. Are these the things that will make the report more critical? 

KT: You have cited some important examples of what we would consider negative trends in autonomy in Hong Kong’s political space.

MC: So those were the issues that will make the report more critical? 

KT: Again, I hope you look forward to reading it.

MC: But then the point will not be reached. In your opinion, as Consul General, the point will not be reached for the Congress to say “we are going to take away the Policy Act”?

KT: Well, the act will require another act of Congress to change, and I haven’t seen anyone suggest that.

MC: Alright, okay. Now, I am going to move on. We have got another thing here now that a lot of controversies, an extradition proposal from the government, stemming from an alleged murder case in Taiwan, involving a Hong Kong person.

KT: Right.

MC: Now, you know, the funny thing is a lot of people in Hong Kong, politicians saying “fine, let’s have one with Taiwan”, but they’re worried about having one with mainland China, right? And the reason being that if you allow that, then Beijing can demand to have this or that person to be extradited for political reasons, right? Now, the US and China, you do have a treaty, right, the US and China, you have a…

KT: No.

MC: You do have one.

KT: With Hong Kong.

MC: With Hong Kong? Not with… I am sorry, yes. You have one with Hong Kong, but not with mainland.

KT: Because of the Hong Kong Policy Act…

MC: Exactly, right.

KT: and “One Country, Two Systems”.

MC: And that came about 20 something years ago with Hong Kong, right? 

KT: We had one predating the handover, but that agreement is remained enforced, again because of the Hong Kong Policy Act allowing us to do that.

MC: So, are you worried that you have one with Hong Kong, and then if Hong Kong said “could you please extradite this person to Hong Kong?”, is the US worried that if Hong Kong has one now with mainland China, then that person upon arriving in Hong Kong, the Chinese government can say “we want that person over there”. Does that worry you?

KT: Well, here is the thing, I am going to give you a careful answer on this, I think the details in this kind of thing really matter, and so I am not prejudging the likely outcome of Hong Kong’s deliberation about what to do with respect to fugitive transfer, vis-a-vis mainland, vis-a-vis Taiwan, and also I don’t want to prejudge what the US reaction would be, because it really depends upon the details and how these things are implemented, in terms of the carve-outs protection for individuals, and with respect to possible fugitive transfer or extradition. So, we will just have to wait and see. There is a possibility that if it is structured in certain ways, then that could have some impact on the implementation of our bilateral arrangement between the United States and Hong Kong. But I don’t want to prejudge that.

MC: Sure.

KT: We are just going to wait and see what happens.

MC: Okay. We have just got a couple more minutes. The Greater Bay Area, some details have been announced. Yet again people say that this is going to even further worsen Hong Kong’s autonomy. Does that worry you?

KT: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

MC: Do you think it will?

KT: I honestly don’t know. I have carefully read the framework that was announced. Let me put a more positive spin on it. I think the Greater Bay Area initiative does create some significant opportunities to reestablish momentum around the reform and opening process for the Chinese economy, using once again, as was the case 40 years ago, and during that 40-year Reform and Opening period, we have heard so much about lately, that to use south China as a place that shows the way to the rest of China, in terms of economic reform and opening. So, a Greater Bay Area initiative that would most excite foreign businesses as well as foreign governments would be one that, in a sense, pushes reform and opening process and the kind of global best practices and rules-based systems that are prevalent in Hong Kong and Macao into Guangdong. That would be great.

MC: Not the other way around?

KT: That would create enormous opportunities for foreign business as well as Hong Kong businesses, as well as mainland businesses, everyone would be happy. So, I really think that, again, the devil is in the details on this, and there weren’t that many details so far. They haven’t announced.

MC: Yeah, they are working on the details.

KT: And if at the end of the day, it’s just some slogans and some bridges, then that’s kind of a neutral outcome, it doesn’t really help open up China, but it also doesn’t really pose a big problem for Hong Kong.

MC: Okay. I have got one minute left. The last time you were here, I asked you free speech is free speech, and you said you can use it even if you promote independence as long as it’s peacefully done. Do you still stand by that?

KT: Well, that’s our approach in the United States. There has been a lot of discussion around flags and anthems of late, and in the United States, you can burn flags or misbehave during the national anthem, people don’t like it when you do it, it’s considered impolite, and not good. 

MC: So free speech is free speech, even for independence?

KT: Certainly, it’s legally protected, free speech.

MC: But for Hong Kong, you think it should be allowed, you can speak about independence peacefully?

KT: Well, our interpretation of freedom of expression is that it’s a boundless thing, and people should be allowed to express themselves as long as they are not specifically hurting another person.

MC: Okay, I have got to end it right there. Thanks. See you next week. Good evening.